Objective. Reaching hand movement is an important motor skill actively examined in the brain-computer interface (BCI). Among the various components of movement analyzed is the hand’s trajectory, which describes the hand’s continuous positions in three-dimensional space. While a large body of studies have investigated the decoding of real movements and the reconstruction of real hand movement trajectories from neural signals, fewer studies have attempted to decode the trajectory of the imagined hand movement. To develop BCI systems for patients with hand motor dysfunctions, the systems essentially have to achieve movement-free control of external devices, which is only possible through successful decoding of purely imagined hand movement. Approach. To achieve this goal, this study used a machine learning technique (i.e. the variational Bayesian least square) to analyze the electrocorticogram (ECoG) of 18 epilepsy patients obtained from when they performed movement execution (ME) and kinesthetic movement imagination (KMI) of the reach-and-grasp hand action. Main results. The variational Bayesian decoding model was able to successfully predict the imagined trajectories of the hand movement significantly above the chance level. The Pearson’s correlation coefficient between the imagined and predicted trajectories was 0.3393 and 0.4936 for the KMI (KMI trials only) and MEKMI paradigm (alternating trials of ME and KMI), respectively. Significance. This study demonstrated a high accuracy of prediction for the trajectories of imagined hand movement, and more importantly, a higher decoding accuracy of the imagined trajectories in the MEKMI paradigm compared to the KMI paradigm solely.
- brain-computer interface (BCI)
- electrocorticogram (ECoG)
- imagined hand movement
- trajectory prediction